A much-anticipated new segment of The Loop trail system called the Paseo de las Iglesias will be opened Saturday at a celebration along the trail.

The name of the segment — which extends about 1.5 miles along the Santa Cruz River from Silverlake Road to Ajo Way — is a reference to “the path between the churches.” That’s because it lies generally in an area between the historic Mission San Agustin site and Mission San Xavier del Bac.

Features along the route include interpretive signs describing the area and its history, perches for raptors, lizard habitats and a water-harvesting basin.

“Paseo de las Iglesias is a critical connection with other segments of The Loop,” said Deirdre Brosnihan, project manager for the Pima County Regional Flood Control District. The county oversees the trail system for nonmotorized travel that loops around the Tucson metro area and now totals more than 100 miles.

“I have spoken to so many residents of the area who have been looking forward to this and are excited to have the new pathway connection,” Brosnihan said. “It will be great to have people come out and ride or walk the trail, but the opening celebration will also have lots of information on history and biology” of the area.

She said the trail route “is not just a pretty landscape but also habitat” for animals.

The installations to benefit wildlife include about a half-dozen raptor perches. Lizard habitat was constructed from naturally occurring rock and rubble that was on the site, Brosnihan said.

CELEBRATION EVENTS

Activities at the opening celebration, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Santa Cruz River Park near Silverlake Road, include:

  • A dedication ceremony with speakers including county officials.
  • Walking tours with information on the history, ecology and archaeology of the area along the new trail segment.
  • A children’s bike rodeo; bike helmets required.
  • A community garden tour.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@tucson.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz